Little League season on hold

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

Members of the Peter J. Foley Little League River Bandits run to the infield after the team was introduced during the league’s opening day ceremony last year. The start of Little League seasons this year is postponed until at least May 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. –FILE PHOTO

The Little League International Board of Directors strongly advised Little League programs across the country to delay the opening of their seasons until at least May 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recognize that this is the heart of the traditional Little League season, and we share in the great disappointment that many are feeling surrounding this additional pause in the 2020 season,” a statement issued by the board reads. “However, it is our hope that by doing this, we will all play a small, but important part in flattening the curve in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Peter J. Foley Little League in Naugatuck had strong registration numbers before schools were closed, league President Robert Didato said. Those numbers have dropped off significantly due to the uncertainty of the present situation, he said.

“Our board of directors is communicating often,” Didato said. “We believe we have a great plan to get our season going on May 11.”

Didato said the league will continue to adhere to the recommendations of Little League Baseball and health professionals, while doing everything possible to make sure children get the experience of playing Little League this summer.

“We will only start the season if it is safe to do so,” he said. “We are preparing to get the season going, so when we do get the official word we will be able to hit the ground running.”

Schools in the state are closed at least until April 20, and possibly the rest of the school year. All eyes are on the public health crisis and looking for signs of hope that the situation may be stabilizing soon.

Erik Pulkkinen, president of the Robert A. Cole Baseball League in Beacon Falls, said league officials have done most of the work necessary to start the season. He said the league’s board will consider recommendations by Little League officials, the Region 16 school district and the town of Beacon Falls before any plans to start the season are solidified.

Pulkkinen said the league will share more information with families when it becomes available.

“We will try and get our kids on the field when it’s appropriate,” he said. “Our main priority is the health and safety of our kids and the community.”

Dennis Segetti, president of Union City Little League in Naugatuck, said the league didn’t get the chance to hold tryouts or the draft, yet.

“Unfortunately we are shut down until May 11, unless something drastically changes,” Segetti said.

Prospect Little League President Brandon Avery said the league has completed registration and put teams together. The league is just waiting for the official word to start play.

“So far it’s May 11, hopefully that doesn’t get pushed back any farther,” Avery said. “We are up around 16 teams in different age groups. Originally our opening day was slated for April 25, so it’s only a matter of a couple of weeks.”